DIY Solar Generator Step by Step Guide Vs All-in-One Solar Generator
Solar generators (also known as portable power stations) are growing in popularity, but without a bit of controversy over what to call them and wether you should do a diy solar generator or simply buy an all-in-one unit. Some solar power enthusiasts are reluctant to adopt solar generators as a tried and true method for long-term solar energy generation. With this in mind, our solar generators are still selling like hotcakes.
In this article, I am going to outline a step-by-step guide on how to build your own DIY solar generator, and after fully examining the pros and cons of a diy solar generator, comparing this with an all-in-one solar generator.
DIY Solar Generator - Steps to Make Your Own Solar Generator
Many skeptics cite expense as the number one reason that they will choose a traditional DIY solar system over an all-in-one solar generator. Whereas, you may be able to cut costs by sourcing and installing all of the individual components, there are many steps that must be taken. Below, we outline the parts you will need to size, buy, and install to create your own DIY solar generator. For this guide, we are going to try and align the parts we are using to best compare to the EcoFlow Delta 1300, one of our most popular generators.
DIY Solar Generator Step 1: The Battery
First, as in any off-grid solar system, the battery is chosen to store the solar energy. The battery that is included in the EcoFlow Delta is rated to hold about 1300Wh of energy, so a comparable standalone battery would be the Lion Energy UT 1300. Although the Lion is a great solar battery, it retails for around $900, which means that there is only roughly $500 left to spend on other parts of the system before it is equal to the price of the Delta. With the Lion UT, users lose the Delta’s rapid AC charging capability as well.
DIY Solar Generator Step 2: The Inverter
Next, we need to purchase an inverter. The Delta is rated to deliver 1800W of continuous power output (with a 3,300W surge rating). A good standalone inverter that can deliver the same amount of power is likely to retail for between $400 and $700, which pretty much brings us up to the total cost of an EcoFlow Delta. Here is a selection of inverters that are rated for continuous power options like 1500W or 2000W in case you need more or less than 1800W of power.
DIY Solar Generator Step 3: The Charge Controller
One thing that some people overlook is the importance of a charge controller, which is wired between your solar panels and your battery to prevent damage from overcharging. Most modern solar generators have the charge controllers built right in. For optimal performance, you will want an MPPT charge controller, like this one, which will likely cost a few hundred dollars. For systems on a tight budget, you may want to consider a lower performance (and cost) PWM charge controller, such as this 20A one from Renogy. Check this guide solar charge controller for sizing info.
DIY Solar Generator Step 4: The Wiring + Bonus Components
The final pieces of a DIY solar generator (besides the solar panels) you will need are all of the wiring, connectors, and adapters to make your system run. Amateurs be warned, as incorrect sizing of your wires will lead to less efficient electricity generation and use. If you want to add some of the bonus capabilities that solar generators have (such as wall outlet or car port charging), then you will have to source and purchase the necessary components for those functions.
DIY Solar Generator Step 5: Installation
Once you have all of the solar parts properly sized and sourced, they will then need to be installed. If you are looking to create a “DIY solar generator” then you will want to purchase a durable box (at additional cost) with enough ventilation to allow the parts to be transported while still functional. For the most part, standalone DIY solar power systems are installed on the side of a house, RV, or van. The installation will also take time as well as additional parts and labor.
Are DIY Solar Generators Worth It?
As you can see from the steps above, setting up your own DIY solar generator can be a complicated and time consuming endeavour. Although it is true that you may be able to save a little bit of money by finding cheap parts and doing it all yourself, a couple of bucks may not be worth all of the convenience a solar generator can provide.
With a DIY system, you are likely to have a stationary system that takes hours to design, source the parts, and install. Solar generators are worth it simply because they are user-friendly, portable, and just plain easy. Unless you are an electrical engineer with a lot of extra time on your hands, solar generators are the safest and easiest way to generate and use solar power.
So What is an All-in-One Solar Generator?
An “all-in-one” solar generator is essentially just a solar energy system that fits inside a box. The term “generator” isn’t exactly the best fit, as the system itself merely stores and supplies the energy that is generated by the solar panels. For this reason, they are often referred to as portable power stations.
All-in-one Solar Generator Pros
- Plug-and-Play Convenience - Solar generators provide everything you need (besides the panels) to harness and store solar electricity. A solar generator is basically an easy to use package to supply power for indoor and outdoor use.
- Portability - Most solar generators are built to be extremely portable. For a completely portable source of power, solar generators can be paired with folding or flexible solar panels for a completely mobile set up. Alternatively, solar generators can be plugged into stationary panels and then removed to deliver electricity wherever it is needed.
High Performance - Unlike standalone solar systems which have an incredible amount of variance, solar generators are designed for a specific purpose. The components of a solar generator have already been sized and installed for the maximum overall system efficiency.
All-in-one Solar Generator Cons:
- Price Tag - The number one complaint most people have about solar generators is their initially high upfront cost. However, it should be noted that there are no later costs involved as the unit can be run on free, renewable electricity.
- Limited Components - In a solar generator, most of the parts are built right into the system. With this in mind, it is very difficult (and warranty-voiding) to replace certain parts such as the inverter or battery. In a standalone system, parts can be more easily swapped out and upgraded.
What are the Best All-In-One Solar Generators on Sale Today?
If you have decided to swap out a small amount of money for a ton of convenience, then you are probably ready to explore your options. Below, I’ve outlined a couple of solar generators that will create the best possible experience for you and your electricity needs.
EcoFlow Delta 1800/1300
The EcoFlow Delta is our best selling solar generator of 2020. It’s affordable price, record-shattering wall charging time, large battery capacity, and high output rating make it an extremely great option for sustained use. Learn more about the EcoFlow Delta or Delta 1300.
Bluetti Solar Generators by MaxOak
MaxOak has developed a few solar generators in their “Bluetti” line that are perfect for convenient, sustained solar usage. The easy to use and transport devices come in both 1500Wh or 2400Wh models depending on your storage needs. With its fast recharge time, the Bluetti is perfect for weekend trips or as a home battery backup option. Learn more about the Bluetti.
The Point Zero Titan Solar Generator
Many naysayers have knocked solar generators as simply not being powerful enough to stand up against gas generators or DIY systems. The Titan, from Point Zero completely upends this idea. The Titan’s stackable battery system, along with its 3000W inverter and 2 MPPT charge controllers, make it an incredible source of energy suitable for any home’s electricity demand. Get more info on the TItan.
Inergy Solar Generators
Lastly, solar generators from Inergy have become increasingly popular as the company continues to debut highly capable pieces of portable machinery. In 2020, the Inergy Flex is set to be one of the most exciting solar generators to date. For more information about the Inergy Flex, or to be notified when it becomes available, you can visit this page.
DIY Solar Generator VS All-in-one Conclusion
In conclusion, all-in-one solar generators are a great alternative to DIY solar generators. Setting up your own DIY solar generator is extremely time consuming and there are many mistakes to be made along the way while designing the system and installing the parts. Not to mention, the money saved may not be worth the time spent trying to build your own solar generator diy.
When it comes down to it, there is no price you can put on simplicity, and modern solar generators may actually cost less than full DIY systems. With all-in-one solar generators, producing and using clean, renewable energy has never been easier. If you'd like to learn more about solar generators, feel free to visit our learning center.